The most unexpected innovation at this year’s Chelsea Plant of The Year, and the third placed variety, was a sunflower, a bushy variety that flowers for months but that’s grown from cuttings. “But sunflowers are easy to raise from seed, why grow them from cuttings?” I hear you say.
Well, Helianthus annuus Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl (‘Sunbeliv01’) is sterile, it produces no seed, so there’s no choice really. But this all has its advantages.
Because Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl is sterile, it flowers non-stop for months. In trials last year it flowered from May to November and during that time 1000 flowers have been counted on just one plant. The other thing about growing it from cuttings is that every plant will be exactly the same, with that same prodigious flower production. What’s more it turns out that you can root it from cuttings on your windowsill.
The golden yellow flowers are 8-10cm across, with a mahogany ring around the dark eye, and are set against neat, rich dark green foliage on stems long enough to cut for the house.
Charles Valins, plant breeder at Thompson & Morgan, revealed all. “Eleven years ago,” he said, “I had this vision of a compact sunflower that would flower all summer long. After eight years of breeding work, and almost 10,000 plants grown to flower, this dream materialised as one single selection in 2015. Because it was such a great plant we tried it from cuttings and were surprised that they rooted easily.
“Last summer, I actually counted the blooms and, all season, I counted an average of 1000 flowers per plant. I could hardly believe it when this selection was still flowering strongly in mid November. In frost free conditions it keeps on flowering all winter. This is the first everblooming annual sunflower.”
You can order plants of Helianthus annuus Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl (‘Sunbeliv01’) from Thompson & Morgan.
Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS